Winter visitors bring revenue to our community

by Craig H. McFarland, Mayor, City of Casa Grande

Happy New Year! This month, I want to talk about what is a full-time resident versus a winter resident. We all spend money and generate sales tax. Many of us pay a property tax, as well. So, I got to thinking – what if we didn’t have our winter friends/part-time residents/winter visitors in our community? What kind of impact would that have on Casa Grande?

I was discussing this point recently when someone asked me, “How many winter visitors do you get?” My standard answer has been 20,000 – 25,000. But as I thought about it, I wasn’t really sure how I came up with that number. So I did some research – one, to validate my number and two, to see what kind of impact our part-time residents have on the city. Here are the numbers:

  • Sales tax increases 20 percent.
  • Library use goes up 25 percent.
  • Traffic on Florence Boulevard goes up 27 percent. (based on current city traffic studies)

That is significant. So, to extrapolate the number of winter visitors from these numbers, I used the traffic number. Here is my math:

  • Permanent full-time residents in Casa Grande 53,600
  • Divided by 3 residents per household = 17,867
  • Multiplied by 2 cars per family = 35,733 cars
  • A 27% increase in traffic equals an additional 9,612 vehicles
  • Times the typical two people per car (just go with me here) = 19,296 winter visitors!

Now, it’s safe to assume that not all winter visitors use Florence Boulevard, because if they are like me, they avoid it. So based on my crude calculation, my number of 20,000 – 25,000 is not bad. Now, what about the financial impact? Here is what I came up with:

– Casa Grande receives $20.8 million each year in local sales tax

  • Total sales tax is 8.7 percent.
  • The state’s portion of that is 5.6 percent.
  • Pinal County’s portion is 1.1 percent.
  • City of Casa Grande’s portion is 2 percent of the 8.7 percent.

-Taxes collected during the prime winter season (using 6 months only) is $11 million. Times the 20 percent sales tax increase would mean winter visitors account for $2.2 million.

-That means they purchase $115 million in sales-taxable goods.

That is $115,000,000 dollars per year in purchases in Casa Grande (during our winter months only). Now that is an impact! This number does not include those who own property and pay property tax, rent, sewer and water and garbage pick-up. It also doesn’t include any non-taxable grocery store food purchases.

So to us full-time residents who complain about traffic – number one, don’t. And number two, next time you meet one of our winter visitors, thank them!

Thank you, everyone!